Volume 1 Issue 6, June 2017

Volume 1 Issue 6

The advent of Acheulian stone-tool technologies 1.75 million years ago is hypothesized to reflect an evolutionary change in early human cognitive and language abilities. Using functional near-infrared spectroscopy, Putt et al. find a key role for working memory but not language in modern Acheulian toolmakers, which suggests that Acheulian tool-making has evolutionary ties to a shift in cognitive skills, but not language.

See Putt et al. 1, 0102 (2017). 

See also Uomini 1, 0114 (2017).

Cover image: Shelby S. Putt. Cover design: Samantha Whitham


  • Editorial |

    The steep rise in global terror necessitates a deeper scientific understanding of the terrorist profile and evidence-based deradicalization programmes.

Comment and Opinion

  • Comment |

    Deradicalization programmes are the cornerstone of counter-terrorism strategies in many countries, yet few have been evaluated for their effectiveness. Stakeholders must introduce standards to ensure basic elements are in place, such as programme development, staff training, advisory services, and transparency.

    • Daniel Koehler
  • Comment |

    Brainstorming was developed over 60 years ago, along with its key concept that ‘no idea is a bad idea’. But could the opposite be true, is brainstorming stifling, rather than unleashing, our creativity? In environments in which ideas go unchallenged, there are techniques that can improve creativity by encouraging criticism.

    • David Burkus
  • Comment |

    Should human genome editing be limited to somatic cells, or should germline genome editing also be permitted? Should (apparently) permissible human genome editing be limited to therapeutic purposes, or should enhancement purposes also be permitted? Who decides, and on what basis?

    • Françoise Baylis

Research Highlights

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    A key question in human evolution is the role of language in Early Stone Age toolmaking. A neuroimaging study now shows that Acheulian and Oldowan toolmaking recruit brain areas associated with different functions. The brain's language network is most strongly engaged when toolmaking is learned through verbal training.

    • Natalie Uomini
  • News & Views |

    Sleep consolidates newly acquired motor skills, leading to improvements in performance after sleep. A study now finds that similar performance improvements following sleep can rely on different neural mechanisms depending on the properties of the learning task.

    • Susanne Diekelmann


  • Perspective |

    Medaglia et al. explore how network control theory — a subdiscipline of engineering — could guide interventions that modulate mental states in order to treat cognitive deficits or enhance mental abilities.

    • John D. Medaglia
    • , Perry Zurn
    • , Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
    •  & Danielle S. Bassett


  • Letter |

    Assessment of moral judgements and social-cognitive profiles of Colombian paramilitary terrorists by Baez et al. reveals a moral code abnormally guided by outcomes, rather than the integration of intentions and outcomes.

    • Sandra Baez
    • , Eduar Herrera
    • , Adolfo M. García
    • , Facundo Manes
    • , Liane Young
    •  & Agustín Ibáñez
  • Letter |

    Bang et al. use behavioural data in culturally distinct settings (United Kingdom and Iran) and computational modelling to show that, when making decisions in pairs, people adopt a confidence-matching heuristic to combine their opinions.

    • Dan Bang
    • , Laurence Aitchison
    • , Rani Moran
    • , Santiago Herce Castanon
    • , Banafsheh Rafiee
    • , Ali Mahmoodi
    • , Jennifer Y. F. Lau
    • , Peter E. Latham
    • , Bahador Bahrami
    •  & Christopher Summerfield
  • Letter |

    Motor skill memories are consolidated and enhanced during sleep. Breton and Robertson show that the neural circuits that support offline memory improvements differ depending on how the memory was acquired — through implicit or explicit learning.

    • Jocelyn Breton
    •  & Edwin M. Robertson
  • Letter |

    The advent of Acheulian stone-tool technologies 1.75 million years ago is likely to have coincided with changes in early human cognition. Using functional near-infrared spectroscopy neuroimaging, modern Acheulian toolmakers are shown to use the same brain network as is involved in playing the piano.

    • Shelby S. Putt
    • , Sobanawartiny Wijeakumar
    • , Robert G. Franciscus
    •  & John P. Spencer